Creating a will or planning an estate can make a lot of people uncomfortable. Because of that, many people put it off for years or even decades. Then, when they need a will or an estate plan, it’s often more difficult for them to create one to their exact needs and specifications due to age, injury, disease, and other factors.

The best time to create a will or estate plan is right now. Wills can be changed over time, and estate planning isn’t something reserved exclusively for the super-rich. At Inman, Stadler & Hill, we help hard-working people ensure their assets, estates, and legacies are preserved and intact for their loved ones and future generations. Contact us today for a consultation to learn how we can help you.

What’s the Difference Between a Will and an Estate Plan?

A will is typically a single legal document. It specifies how you want your assets divided and distributed to loved ones, friends, charities, organizations, and other people and parties after your death. It also may contain directions on who will care for minor children and appoint a personal representative/executor who will be in charge of carrying out the actions you specify in your will.

An estate plan is a collection of documents that are created to help achieve a broad plan for a person’s assets after they die and even who can make decisions on their behalf while they’re still alive. Wills are often included in estate plans, as well as directions of who will be named power of attorney for both finances and healthcare, the establishment of trusts, and more.

Is It Better to Have a Will or an Estate Plan?

It’s important to have a will or an estate plan, but estate plans are better for most people. Wills are limited in the power, direction, and scope they provide for surviving family members after a loved one’s death. Ideally, wills should be part of an estate plan rather than the only legal document specifying a person’s wishes after they pass away.

When estate plans are prepared properly and thoroughly, they leave nothing up to chance or for the courts to decide. They also reduce the chances of confusion, disagreement, and hurt feelings among surviving family members after death. Because they are much more detailed, more authoritative, and more thorough, estate plans leave little room for different interpretations or arguments.

Medical Directives in Estate Plans Are More Important than Ever

Healthcare technology advances rapidly year after year. It’s becoming more and more common for scientific advancements to keep people alive for long periods of time after suffering debilitating illnesses such as heart attacks and strokes, as well as complications from diseases and accidents. Unfortunately, many people who are kept alive have little to no chance of recovering or even becoming conscious again.

This is why medical directives and appointing of power attorney for healthcare is so important, which is usually accomplished via an estate plan. With these directives in place, you can rest assured that your end of life wishes will be respected if you suffer a sudden downturn in your health due to illness, accident, or injury.

The State Will Choose Who Raises Your Children if You Don’t Specify

Another important reason to have an estate plan is to appoint guardians for your children if you and your spouse pass away or otherwise become incapable of raising them. It’s not enough to express those wishes verbally or even in written form. They must be part of an estate plan that’s recognized and followed by the state after your death.

It’s not uncommon for children to end up living with relatives who weren’t the children’s parents’ choice after they pass away. But when that choice isn’t clearly and explicitly detailed in an estate plan, the state chooses where children end up, which isn’t always the home or living situation that’s in the best interest of the children.

Don’t Wait to Create a Will or Estate Plan—Contact Us Today

Regardless of your age, number and value of assets, or even if you have children, it’s important to create a plan to protect and carry out your legacy and final wishes after you pass away. As life changes over the years, you can also make changes to these important documents to ensure your family, friends, and other parties are included and handled appropriately and according to your wishes.

The Tennessee estate planning lawyers at Inman, Stadler & Hill have the experience you need to get maximum peace of mind throughout every step of the will or estate plan creation process. Reach out today to get our dedicated and knowledgeable legal team on your side.